By Bill McMorris Illinois Statehouse News
CHICAGO — While Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bill Brady look to thousands of uncounted ballots in Tuesday’s too-close-to-call race, election authorities are trying to figure out how a possible recount would work.
Quinn leads the Bloomington state senator by fewer than 9,000 votes out of nearly 3.4 million cast on Election Day, according to Associated Press reports. Illinois residents will have to wait until Dec. 3 when the state Board of Elections meets to see how the election pans out, according to Rupert Borgsmiller, Assistant Executive Director at the State Board of Elections.
“Until Dec. 3, it’s just a process of the ballots coming in, clerks doing canvassing and reporting to the board of elections,” he said. “We won’t have an accurate picture until then.”
Thousands of absentee, military and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, meaning the state could see Tuesday’s results tossed out, a fact that has resonated with Quinn and Brady. Each candidate is waiting for all votes to be counted before examining the possibility of a recount.
Borgsmiller does not know how many absentee and military ballots have yet to be counted, but in 2006, the state tallied 124,600 ballots–more than enough to sway Tuesday’s results.
The Republican and Democratic parties each have election lawyers on retainer to contest votes. Quinn and Brady have been mum about the prospect of a recount.
“This is all unchartered waters,” said Ron Michaelson, who served as executive director of the state Board of Elections for 27 years. “If Brady can close the gap significantly, I would not be surprised to see a recount.”
The state has never encountered a recount, which adds even more uncertainty to the situation.
The losing candidate on Dec. 3 will have 15 days to petition the Illinois Supreme Court for a recount. Although Illinois’ recount laws are on the books, Borgsmiller is uncertain how it would pan out.
“The matter could be decided by the court or they could delegate that responsibility to the Board of Elections,” Borgsmiller said.
But the board currently does not have specific procedures in place to handle the state’s first recount.
“There’s no specific timeline…(but) we will be drafting procedures (for a recount) before Dec. 3,” Borgsmiller said. “Until we actually go through that process, it’s hard to project what it’s going to look like or how it’s going to turn out.”
Tuesday’s election was the closest since 1982, when Republican Gov. Jim Thompson edged out Democrat Adlai Stevenson III by 5,074 votes of the 3.6 million cast — the highest off-year election turnout in Illinois history. Stevenson’s calls for a recount were declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court, leading the General Assembly to draft the current recount laws, which could be employed in the coming weeks.
Brady will hope to emerge from the close contest in the mold of Thompson, who also trailed after election night.
Michaelson says Brady has handled his initial vote deficit well, but thinks the Bloomington senator owes it to his voters and campaign volunteers to pursue a recount.
“Sen. Brady owes it to not only himself, but to his supporters and others who voted for him to make sure all avenues are exhausted,” he said. “So much time, money and energy was exerted on this thing, you should make sure you really lost.”
For now, the election rests in the hands of local election authorities, who are charged with keeping track of ballots. Those authorities have until Nov. 23 to report back to the state.
Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.